October News


No More Standing Alone


Did you hear about the October UM Café totally focused on how we can solarize the denomination?

What?!?  Seriously? As retired pastors of the Oregon-Idaho Conference, my wife Debbie and I couldn’t have imagined such a conversation ever happening 45 years ago when our rural Idaho congregation was deciding to put a solar hot water system on our parsonage—not in our wildest ecclesiastical dreams! Many of us across the church—standing alone—have been working for this day for 45 years and more. And now we’re doing it! No more standing alone.

The other day, we were driving our five-year-old grandson Jackson somewhere in our Chevy Bolt EV, when, from his place in the backseat he asked, “Grampa, Gramma, what do solar panels do?” We had to put together an impromptu traveling webinar on the tickling of silicon with sunlight and how excited electrons are really the current of the Divine!

Jackson and his generation are immersed in the “new thing.” In our extended family are eight solar homes and five EVs. Jackson’s Unitarian church building and our UM building in Bend, Oregon, both have major solar arrays on their rooftops. Even so, today solar is still pretty much a privilege of the privileged: privileged households and privileged congregations. And still mostly for early adopters and first responders.

So, you and I are having this solar conversation because the only antidote to privilege is real community, and we believe in the power of not just individual congregations but annual conferences and denominations to do what’s right for the earth, in a way that favors those affected first and worst by climate emergency who can least afford renewables.

Some of us are beginning to discover tools to help us do this sacred work and fund it. We will share what we know. We will begin to focus on how our conferences across the U.S. and the wisdom and connection of our denomination can help us coordinate for peace, justice, and the integrity of creation.

Yes. We are going to do this. Join up. Come, learn and share what you know.


Rev. John Pitney is a husband, father and grandfather to 5-year-old Jackson. He is a member of the Oregon-Idaho Conference, co-leads the Oregon Interfaith Solar Campaign, and is on the Creation Justice team for Oregon Interfaith Power and Light. He believes in the power of congregations to make a difference!